Hon. Lady Justice Jane Frances Abodo

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is established under Article 120 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. It is charged with the duty of instituting criminal proceedings in all Courts with competent jurisdiction except the Court Martial.

It is over 3 years since I became a Prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), having been appointed as the Director of Public Prosecutions from the Judiciary of Uganda.  Prior to going to the Bench, I had worked in the ODPP for 19 years. I returned to my 
alma mater on special assignment as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of our country.  

It is with deep and profound gratitude that I thank His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, on my own behalf and that of my family, for his confidence in me. First, for appointing me as a Judge of the High Court over 5 years ago, and now, for this current assignment as Director of Public Prosecutions of the Republic of Uganda. My appointment is historic for me, the people of Karamoja, Prosecutors, as well as  the women of Uganda.

I note the remarkable progress made by the previous DPPs, especially initiatives by Hon. Justice Mike Chibita and Hon. Justice Richard Buteera. Key among these include deepening the ODPP presence and closer supervision of Prosecutors through the establishment of 16 Regional Offices across the country, construction of 32 new offices and expansion of ODPP presence to about 108 stations across the country, establishment of specialized departments among other initiatives.

As the ODPP, we are charged with the duty to direct criminal investigations and institute criminal proceedings against any person or authority in any Court with competent jurisdiction other than the Court Martial. We are the foot soldiers of justice. We are the lawyers for the people. We are commanded to deliver justice for the people of Uganda. We prosecute on behalf of the people of Uganda because every crime is an act of aggression against the whole of society of which a particular victim is a member. In the Criminal Justice process, the people seek redress and proportionate justice. We are bestowed with the privilege to make the decision to charge or not to charge and to go to court to ensure that justice is dispensed with, in equal and even-handed manner, at all times. We do this within the parameters of our Constitution, related laws, guidelines and regulations, while dressed in the armor of utmost independence, impartiality, professionalism, skill and integrity. The ultimate objective is to ensure public safety and security. Any threat to these two tenets is at the core of our decision to charge or not to. We shall favor no one. We shall fear no one. We shall ensure that justice wins, and justice must always win.

From the time I assumed office as DPP on 22nd April 2022, we have attained some milestones in critical areas in the operation of the institution, namely: – promotion of 51 Senior State Attorneys to the rank of Chief State Attorney, 39 State Prosecutors to the rank of Senior State Prosecutor, and 118 State Attorneys to the rank of Senior State Attorney. We have also recruited 100 State Attorneys in order to cover more courts and magisterial areas. We pursued salary enhancement for the Prosecutors in the year 2022 and secured tax exemption from their salary in 2023. We have procured 65 vehicles and handed them over to Regional Officers and Heads of Stations in hard-to-reach areas and other stations to enhance their movements to courts to prosecute criminal cases. We have made robust re-organization and re-deployments informed by specialization, the needs of our clients, the people and the need to reduce case backlog. We continue to develop internal capacity to prosecute complex crimes such as cyber crime by establishing specialized units such as the Cyber Crime Unit. A Virtual Prosecutors Academy was established in early 2023 to build capacity of Prosecutors for a fair dispensation of justice, career development and performance improvement and to re-skill and re-tool our Prosecutors. In addition, we have developed various guidelines such as the Decision to Charge Guidelines, Plea Bargain Guidelines, Prosecution–Guided Investigations Guidelines, Land Crimes Guidelines, to provide guidance to our prosecutors in the execution of their prosecutorial mandate. The case file management and complaints handling systems have been streamlined to ensure quick and speedy processing of information.  Improved data collection and reporting formats such as TIPMAP for collecting, storing and tracking Trafficking in Persons case data have been developed.

Efforts are being undertaken to ensure that the ODPP Bill for the operationalization of Article 120 of the Constitution that establishes the ODPP is passed as an Act, the Prosecution Case Management Information System (PROCAMIS) is expanded to cover all ODPP offices, improved data collection and reporting formats are in-built in PROCAMIS, and all guidelines relating to prosecutions are comprehensively reviewed, and compiled into one Compendium of ‘ODPP Guidelines for Prosecutors in Uganda’.

The achievements attained by the ODPP have facilitated the performance of the Prosecutors to safeguard public interest, act with fairness, take proper account of the status of all persons who interface with the Criminal Justice System in Uganda. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is a great hall of justice which serves as the chain that connects the ox to the plough. This implies that neither the ox nor the plough can work without the chain; in as much as the chain cannot plough on its own. It is our hope that in serving the people of Uganda, we shall distinctly distinguish the ODPP in the course of the dispensation of Criminal Justice.

I stand for building personal brands dressed in integrity, hard work, flexibility, professionalism and collective growth. I therefore have zero tolerance to unethical and corrupt individuals, and this has seen officers implicated in corruption and corruption-related activities prosecuted in the courts of law. The ODPP should be seen to be transparent, accountable and a champion of justice. It is my hope that at the end of my illustrious service of tenure as the DPP, I will have metamorphosed ODPP into an iconic centre of prosecutorial excellence in Uganda.